Fighting Storms

Obinna was crushed.

Today was meant to be the happiest day of his life. The sun was meant to be bright, and the blue skies were meant to mean that everything was okay, right? But it didn’t.

His world was upside down, the bright blue clouds were caving in, and the weight of the large mass of the sun was resting on his shoulders. Heaving with the strength of a wheelbarrow pusher in a busy Lagos market, he gallantly fought back the tears.

No. it couldn’t be. Not after everything they had been through.

After the proposal, counseling, the back and forth trips to both families, and the preparation for the wedding. How could everything have ended this way?

“Lord, but I prayed…”

Trust in the Lord with all your hearts, and lean not on your own understanding… the word filtered through his mind, but were lost in the turbulent waves of confusing thoughts trailing in his heart.

“But she said yes…”

And then, God said no…

How else could he explain her sudden exit? That he would never hear her voice again? Or that everything they had planned was gone, with the wind? God has a reason for everything, but what could possibly have been the reason for taking her away?

How was he going to get out of this? How would he bear the pitiful looks he could almost hear them. “Ey-yah…” He could feel the penetrating stares of the doleful eyes of the uninvited guests to his pity party. “That’s him – the man whose fiancée left a day to the wedding…”

Obinna opened his eyes. No, it was not a dream. This was real.

“Lord, please help me…” a plea less like a prayer left his lips. “I don’t know where to start, or how to proceed… but if there’s anyone who can get me out of this… Lord, you can.”

God had found him before, and He could do it again, and lift him up.

Obinna thought of her smile, the gorgeous glint in her eyes. He broke.

Why? Why me? Why did this happen? He couldn’t get the beautiful smile out of his head, or the forever mark that had been seared in his heart.

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Visions (Episode 5)

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A phone began to ring.

Adamu looked around. It was coming from his pocket. He ignored it, along with the uncomfortable looks that he received from the people that gathered around him. He recognised them, the vultures that called themselves his uncles, and their greedy wives and children, their eyes hit him hard, almost burning through his skin. He gave in, retreated, and pulled out the phone from his pocket. He looked at the dialer. Angelica. He switched it off, and marched back to the grave side, just as the coffin was being lowered.  Someone began to sing. It had been his mother’s favourite song. Her voice filtered through time, and he could almost hear her again…”Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…”

The burial ceremony came to an end, and he was back to his mundane routine-styled life.

He was back to his serviced apartment. He clicked open the door, he looked around. Everything was neat, in place and aligned, the way he liked it. On the counter was a lady’s female top, a souvenir to let him know one of his girlfriends had let herself in. Which one, he couldn’t remember, then he heard the flirtatious giggle coming from his room.

He walked, slowly towards the room. And he saw her, the long legged beauty. She was twenty, maybe a year older, or younger. Too much make up, no manners. He must have been drunk on the night he let her in. “What are you doing here?” He asked her. “How did you get in here?”

She was wearing one of his t-shirts, and it dangled over her knees. “You gave me a key, remember?”

Adamu groaned inwardly. He hardly remembered the night when he had attended his client’s celebratory dinner, and she had been his trophy for clinching a deal.  He could hardly remember her, except for getting drunk, the dancing, and ending up in his apartment.

“I came to cheer you up,” she began, advancing towards him.

“My mother just died,” Adamu said harshly, she shook. “Just put your clothes on, and leave.”

“But…” She tried to interrupt. “Baby… you can’t just…”

Adamu took her by the arm, and she let out a howl like a wounded lioness. “I said leave…” He dragged her to the door, and he threw her out. He tossed a wad of naira notes at her. “Take a taxi, and just go.” He shut the door, leaving her stunned.

He went back to his room, made a call.

“Yes, please don’t let that woman back into my apartment, do you hear me?”

“Okay sir,” he heard at the other end.

“Good.” Adamu went to his cabinet, pulled out a bottle and poured himself a drink. Somehow, he couldn’t bring himself to drink it.

“I dedicated you to the Lord…” He could still hear his mother’s final words to him. “Promise me…”

He dropped the glass, and decided to hit the shower instead.

TO BE CONTINUED

Visions (Episode 4)

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“I’m so sorry to hear about your mother…”

He had heard it so many times now, he wished he could eject from the burial ceremony. He wondered why Africans had to make a big a deal about everything. Why couldn’t things be as simple with us as it was with the English?

But no, his mother’s family had to go and blow the ceremony out of proportion – an endless sea of canopies, loud blaring music, aso-ebi, people he hardly even knew, and who had to take care of the monumental cost? He did.

He stared at the casket. Pure crystal. The best money could buy.

He couldn’t believe she was gone, just like that. He had struggled to make sure she had been happy, and he wondered if she had been happy, with him, at least. He would never forget the smile on her face, she looked happy to die, but had she been happy with him, that was another question altogether.

He still saw images of her, could smell the fragrance of akara that wafted across the house every Saturday morning. He woke up to the sizzling sound of bean cake as they were tossed into hot oil and danced in obedience till they cooked. He couldn’t believe she was just gone like that. He didn’t have enough time.

How could she have left him just at the brink of when he was about to give her everything? Her house was almost complete, with her in-built care facility, a team of round-the-clock medical attendants – specialist nurses, doctors and care-givers – waiting to resume work.

His mother knew things, saw things. She had this ethereal connection that made her seem like a custodian of all knowledge. She had known she was going to die. How perfectly timed it was, like a stage actor, she had known just when to kick the bucket, and she made sure he had been there, for some twisted reason of hers.

“Death can be so premature, but Zaza lived a good life…”

He forced himself to return to the ceremony. He had nearly fallen off the chair from boredom, the only seated on an entire row. Usually, the front row was left for the children of the deceased, but there was no one seated next to him. He had been an only child.

He was bored stiff by the clergyman’s message. But he had been his mother’s favourite preacher, and she had loved this church more than life itself. He remembered the times his mother would drag him in, to attend choir practice, and rigorous hours of bible study.

Zaza… it had been ages he had heard anyone call his mother’s Ghanian name. It reminded him of so long ago when things had been very different…

The ceremony dragged to a close. And then, it was all over.

“Dust to dust… ashes to ashes…”

The clergyman’s sombre tone was interspersed with shallow coughs, and a sniffle.

“We commit the spirit of our beloved…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Visions (Episode 3)

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If only he knew what was in my heart, Felicity thought inwardly. How I long for the days when we had nothing on our table, but a few seeds of groundnuts, swimming in a bowl of garri. Those days when we were a family, we had all our priorities right, and we were together. What was there to look forward to when she awoke to a house filled with strangers, and there were no familiar faces to dull the ache, or help her relive her memories?

“There is more to life than numbers, Adamu…” she stretched out her hand towards him.

Adamu took her fingers and he touched the wrinkles on them. “Mother, it will be fine,” he told her, then as he heard the voice on the other end of the phone, he switched his attention to his conversation. “Yes, Ajayi, I know, I know, don’t worry, we’re on top of things…” he sighed as he spoke, and he wove his words together. This was important especially for a new client who had invested heavily and was learning to trust in the game. Adamu rose to his feet. “I can give you a hundred and one percent assurance, we will not lose. This is my job, and I didn’t come without good recommendation, so relax, sir.” Adamu began to pace slowly.
Felicity watched him, like a mother who had lost a priced possession. It seemed like yesterday when he had come forth into the world, screaming in agony, and putting smiles on her face and his father’s. They had prayed for him and he had come into the world after they had waited for so long. Adamu had great plans for his son, he was going to do so much for him, then disaster struck. It had changed her husband, and it had changed her son. It had changed her life.

Adamu walked away, still on the phone. Felicity knew she had no more time, she had to let Adamu know, she had to tell him.

“Lord, please give me a little more time. I need to talk to him, I need to get him to know before it’s too late…” Felicity closed her eyes and once again, the visions came, this time stronger than before.

Adamu walked towards her and he pressed a kiss on her forehead. “I love you.”

“I’ve been having the visions again,” Felicia began.

“Are you still on your medications, mother?”

Warily, her eyes darted sideward. “I’m not crazy…”

“Well, your visions are…”

Felicia looked apprehensive, Adamu touched her head. “You’re fine, I’m fine, nothing is wrong, and nothing is happening. You’re fine, I told you…”

“You have to listen, Adamu, God is real, and I believe He is…”

“I know, just try to get some rest, alright?”

“Will you listen to me? I sent for you, so listen to what I have to say, and stop interrupting.”

Adamu looked at her in the face as she spoke,

“You are my son, and I want what’s best for you. My son, there is danger ahead, you have to be careful.”

“It’s my job to be careful, I always am. God didn’t need to give you visions to tell me that.”

“Hold fast unto what your mother and your father taught you, and on that day, when no one will be there for you, you will remember their words.” Felicia was frantic, tugging at his shirt. “Promise me.”

“Look, there is no need to…”

“Promise me,” Felicia began.

“I promise.”

Her face eased up, a satisfied smile rested on her thin lips. “Now, I can rest.” She closed her eyes, she looked so peaceful lying there. She began to hum, a melody that drifted and floated past events like dried leaves on a windy morning.

Adamu looked at her, her hands clutched his. He realised something was wrong, she wasn’t blinking any more, and she stared into some faraway unknown place. He felt a nudge instantly. She wasn’t humming anymore.

She was gone.

“Mum, Mum.”

No response.

He darted around to get the nurse.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Visions (Episode 2)

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Adamu walked in long, hurried strides. Clad in a grey Italian suit and his French shoes. He wore his grey suit on days when he had to see his bankers. Bankers were funny people who always profiled you from head to toe, and the grey suit always sent the message of being on top, unruffled, and expensive.  A red tie he had worn because red was his mother’s favourite colour, and he had come along with her favourite smile. When was the last time he saw his mother? Two months, three months? Maybe four, he couldn’t remember, now.

The nurse opened the door to the left. He looked into the room. Nice, tastefully furnished. His money had fetched far more than he had even thought. Nice colour, pink walls, and mahogany – just as he had recommended.

“Adamu…” the frail woman was lying in an upright position, her eyes drawn in, her face pale but her skin radiant and testified to a life well spend and enjoyed. “I sent for you…”

“Yes, you did, and I came.” Adamu filled the chair next to her, a chair that looked relatively new, considering the fact that it had been there for over two years. He looked at her for a while.

“You came two weeks late.”

“I sent Dr. Steven…”

“Dr. Steven is not my son…”

“Mother, what do you want? I have given you the best medical care money can buy. I even upgraded this hospital just because of you. I pay the doctors very well to look after you.”

Felicity Adamu cleared her throat. “I am dying Adamu…”

“Don’t say that. Dr. Steven says you have many years to live..”

Felicity smiled faintly. “Jesus is calling me home.”

Adamu resisted the urge to roll his eyes, and he looked past the bible that she clutched firmly to her side. “Calling you home? Is that what they teach you these days?” He turned to the television screen, and pointed the remote to it, and the channel changed to one where a fairly confident news anchor was reading the report of daily stock prices.

Felicity cast her weary eyes towards him. He was fully engrossed on the screen, his eyebrows arched, where and he heard the vibration of his phone.

“What’s happening – I thought I asked you to call me if…”

“That’s why I called you sir.” Angelica started.

“By how many percent have the stocks dropped?”

“Three point two.”

Adamu picked up a calculator by his side and he punched in some numbers.

Felicity watched him sadly, her eyes were moist with tears and she longed to reach out to him and talk to him. Where was the little boy she had known, she had loved, she brought up in the way of the Lord?

“Okay, that’s not good…” Adamu started. “Angelica, just let me know what happens. If it drops to point three…”

“What do we do sir?”

“We sell, that’s what.”

“But you’ll need to talk to Ajayi, he’s called me like a zillion times this morning.”

“A zillion times?”

“Okay, less than a zillion times…”

He looked at Felicity, “Sorry mum about this,” he started. The he looked at her again.

“You know you’re all I have left in this world,” she started.

“Mum stop saying that,” Adamu looked through his telephone contacts and he dialled a number. “I’m working for you so you can the best kind of life, the kind my father never gave you.”

“There you go again about your father… he tried the way he could… he invested so much in you – your education…”

“And I’m not going to let him down,” Adamu looked at her. “I’ll give you all the comfort you can possibly imagine, mother. The days of suffering are long gone.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

The Sassi Chics’ Journals

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Welcome to the world of the Sassis!

Meet Femi and Nkem Sassi:

Femi Sassi: 65 year old, retired civil servant, owns a fish farm.

Nkem Sassi: 59 year old, Managing Executive, still working.

Now, meet their five daughters:

Kay-Grace Sassi: 32, medical doctor, loves her job, immerses herself in work, hates to make friends.

Joy-Kemi Sassi: 25, works in a reputable bank, but due to the national crises, risks losing her job, academician, has a love for degrees, and learning.

Precious  Sassi: 19, ‘baby of the house’.  Undergraduate student of English. Makes the lives of all the Sassi’s miserable when she’s on holiday with her loud blaring music and insatiable appetite for junk food.

Dolly-Dee Sassi: 29, Highly undercover  job in the Armed Forces, hates to cook, loves to argue, has a temper.

Hope Sassi: 22 year old loves to cook, but is constantly on a diet. Known to come up with ‘crazy schemes’, currently an undergraduate in Ghana.

Journey with the Sassy Chics through their journals; experience their joys, and their disappointments, and their survival living with their parents, and each other, before they march to the altar!

Download the free eBook here

Visions (Episode 1)

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Pattering running feet along smooth, white washed corridor floors.

A gentle hum floated across the room as a middle aged nurse with soft smiling eyes and wrinkled cheeks walked into the reception area. A large television stood in place, with a man, in his mid thirties, dark skinned, and with silver rimmed glasses on his nose. He looked like he had not slept in a week but his wrist watch spoke tales of apparent affluence, and his imported suit fit like a glove, it had to be tailor made.

Adamu turned his head, flipping through the morning paper. The stock prices were on the rise again. If the market was anything to go by, the prices looked good. His catapult to wealth had been one of war, going against his father’s advice and throwing the whole lot in. Penny stocks, he had worked, operated on a drunken friend’s hunch, and the result was his instant propulsion into a world of numbers, analysis, and lots of money.

His phone rang. It was his Personal Assistant.

“Mr Adamu, please come this way…” the nurse beckoned to him.

“Angelica,” Adamu spoke into his ear piece. “Not now… I told you…”

Her raspy Igbo-intonated voice interrupted him. “Sir, you told me to call when there was an emergency.”

Her voice was a persistent, urgent shrill, and although he had hired her for her skill, not her voice, he was having a rethink of his decision. He suddenly had a headache.

“Sir, this way,” The nurse harshly spoke. From the tone of her voice, her patience was wearing thin, and it was no surprise. He paid the outrageous bills the private and foreign owned hospital required, so what was the woman’s problem? He also gave a generous donation during the last fundraising that the hospital had organised to buy the very expensive machine, which his mother survived on. She obviously had no idea who he was.

“Angelica, I know what I said,” Adamu met the nurse’s gaze and he held it. “I’ll call you back in ten.” He cut the phone and looked at her. “I’m here to see Mrs. Adamu…”

The nurse was obviously not impressed. “Yes, I know,” she looked at him, like he was her three old child that had done some naughty deed and needed to be punished. “Yes,” as a younger, friendlier looking nurse approached, “Stella, please show him the way.”

Stella revealed a young lady with a pair of warm eyes, and an inviting smile, maybe too inviting, if Adamu thought about it for a minute or two. Adamu eased up. That was much better, someone who knew exactly who he was, and was willing to dance to his tune.

Adamu lifted his six foot one frame and he walked towards the direction her outstretched hand pointed. He wondered why the old lady was still employed in the hospital. Age had eaten deep into her looks, her attitude, and the way she carried herself. He let his thoughts wander away momentarily and he focused instead on the hospital. It was rather quiet, except for the excited squeals that came from the playing children darting around like firecrackers on  the night before New Year.

“Mr Adamu,” Stella started shyly. Adamu looked up at her, and as they walked, she found new courage and she proceeded to speak.  “It’s an honour to meet you in person…”

Adamu said nothing. She obviously took his silence for consent and she began to talk about the new building that Adamu had put up in the hospital and the new equipment that had been purchased, and how generous he had been to contribute to buying them a new power generating set.

He walked down the corridor where bright white light illuminated the way, making it appear like some screening room of some sort under the watchful scrutiny of some alien higher intelligence.

TO BE CONTINUED…